When’s the Best Time to Meet an Online Date?

Posted by Delaine - May 29, 2009 - Concerns & Fears, Dating & Sex, Internet Dating - 3 Comments


Yesterday, I received an email from a newly-separated woman who’d recently signed up on a dating site.  She wrote:  

“I read your article that said you don’t spend a lot of time talking to prospective dates on the phone or IM because you find it sets up false expectations.   My concern is that I’m going to meet a wacko or stalker!  So how long DO you talk to online men before meeting face-to-face?”

When it comes right down it, I think every woman/man has to make that ‘time’ decision for herself/himself.  So many factors come into play, ie: how long you’ve been separated, how much you trust your intuition, your confidence level, your comfort with the online medium, etc.

The very first man I met off a dating site I treated like a sociopath.  Seriously – I must have asked him a thousand question over a period of three weeks before agreeing to meet.  And though I now look back on that and chuckle, I know I was in a different head/heart-space back then.  Moreover, I was shocked and kinda frightened by this strange dynamic world called e-dating.  I needed time to adjust, so I took it – and so should you.  My golden rule: never allow anyone to pressure you into meeting before YOU think you’re ready.  Period.

My approach to e-dating today is way more relaxed in some ways, yet stricter in others.  I tend to rely heavily on my intuition, how ever communication transpires.  (Remember, I’ve been accused of brushing men off too easilyJ). 

 As a general rule, I tend to exchange a handful of emails with a man, or have a few brief IM chats  (I don’t have hours to chat so I keep them under a half-hour).  Usually I have a phone conversation with him too – the phone is way more telling than the computer in my books.   

I’m also always on the look-out for red flags – you know, if he’s secretive, if he won’t send photos, if his Instant Messenger response time is delayed as if he’s talking to another woman simultaneously… 

 And even if I do meet a man in person, I don’t normally give out my address, phone number, or any info on my kids.   AND I make sure we meet in a public place.

I think common sense and intuition go a long way in the e-dating world.    And as my wise best friend Hali once said to me, “If you meet a guy in a bar and give him your phone number without knowing much about him, he could just as easily be a stalker or freak as these guys you screen online.”  I agree.





  • Momma Sunshine says:

    When I was doing the online dating site thing, I always chose to go with “sooner rather than later” when it came to meeting in person. I’d exchange a few emails, have a couple of IMs, and then meet in public as soon as possible. I agree that it’s sometimes too easy to develop false expectations when you only talk to someone online…
    But I also agree that you should let your own comfort level be your guide…

  • dadshouse says:

    I prefer meeting sooner than later. And I agree, don’t give out addresses, or even your real name before a first meeting. I’m fine swapping cell phone numbers – I have never had a stalker problem with calls. And if you do, you can always block their number.
    Online dating does have a tendency to set expectations way too high.

  • cat says:

    It is about your own level of comfort. I’m the “sooner rather than later” type also.
    I figure why waste a couple of weeks emailing and talking on the phone when we can meet for coffee and know within 30 minutes whether he is someone I’m interested in spending more time with.
    At my age it’s best to get the prelimaries out of the way and move on if I’m not interested!

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